Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dead Heart Bloom Interview

Boris Skalsky is a man who prefers to go at it alone. "Being in bands for most of my life, it's the first time I am able to call all the shots myself. Initially, this is very liberating. Maybe my tastes will change, but, for now, I like having that freedom."

Skalsky is Dead Heart Bloom, the name he chose after his previous outfit, Phaser, called it a career. It didn't take long for critics to notice. One publication called DHB "a new artist to keep an eye on in 2006. Armed with twelve new tracks, critical acclaim, and a will to succeed, Boris Skalsky is set to make it break it, but on his own terms.

Here is an interview conducted recently with Boris Skalsky. Enjoy.

Is it comforting to know that it's all in your hands?

Yes. On the other hand, there is no one to blame for any mistakes or mis-steps but yourself. So, although it's comforting, it's also a little unnerving. There are also times I miss being able to bounce ideas off another musician immediately. Now, it's me and the studio and my own instincts.

You've said that anger is a great motivator. How does the anger manifest for you?

I think I've actually burned through that anger. It was only a flash to begin with. But when it was there, it was the usual childish, schoolyard mentality of "I'll show them."

What song on your CD most represents the manifestation of anger?


If you could play "Folsom Prison Blues" to/for Johnny Cash, speculate on what his reaction might be.

I think he might respect a transformation of his song because it's what he did so well to other's songs on his last three or four records. Of course, that's being presumptuous that he would even hear this version,or care.

"Listen as I find you a song
Listen as I find you a poem
Listen as the wind bring you down
Every cobbled graveyard in town."

I love these lyrics. Who are you singing them to?

Mainly the listener. The song, taken literally, sets up the rest of the record. Sort of a prelude. "Listen...".

Do you enjoy ambiguity?

I enjoy the record being a little hard to pin down. My favorite records are exactly like that. The White Album is the best example. Stylistically, that record is all over the place. Yet it hangs together and is a work of art. It doesn't bother me that people say my record is stylistically "ambiguous." Although the songs are different from one another, I think the style is cohesive.

I was reading recently where Jason Lytle of Grandaddy said he was a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra. I'm sensing you might be fan as well, esp. with some of the orchestration you utilize. Would I be correct?

I recently re-discovered them. I knew some of the more popular songs for a long time and disregarded them. Then a friend played me a whole record, and some of the deep tracks were great. It helps that they are very Beatles influenced.

Much of what I've read describe either you or your music as dark. What brings you happiness and joy?

The same things, I think, as everyone else. It's just that these things are not as interesting to sing about.

Control is a word you seem to place great value in. Explain why?

If you mean control of your musical destiny, yes, I place a high value in that. But not in the negative sense of a "control freak." There's nothing wrong with working with others, collaborating, etc., if it's someone you respect. I just want to see my vision on each song through to the end. If it's the wrong path, then at least I will have followed it and failed with some integrity.

Having been born and raised in New York, I know how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle. How will you keep that from happening to DHB?

Ultimately, I think you can't keep that from happening or not happening because it is somewhat out of your control. And if you worry about it, then that becomes the focus of your obsessions, instead of obsessing about music. The best method I know of is to keep pounding at the door and not be ashamed of the pounding.

Find out more about Dead Heart Bloom at In fact, you can download DHB's debut in its entirety.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

News From The Great Beyond: Kill Rock Stars, Three Widows, Page France, An Albatross, Liquid Soul

We open with two new releases from the Kill Rock Stars imprint. Both CDs are hitting the stores on June 6th (a/k/a 06/06/06). The Paper Chase's (left) Now You Are One of Us features what KRS describes as "strangled guitars, bombastic percussion, terror-stricken strings, bizarre samples and crashing pianos." Enough said.

Meanwhile, something off-the-beaten-path has yet to discover, The Robot Ate Me will issue Good World, featuring 17 tracks clocking in at 23 minutes. Ryland Bouchard (below, right) presents the listener with a imaginative world that presents mythical characters like Djien (a monster spider the size of a man whose heart is buried in the ground causing it to survive the most critical attacks), the Stone Giants (who are invulnerable except on the soles of their feet) and She Owl (the wife of Bloody Knife).

The former members of Breather Resist have been reincarnated under the name Three Widows. Evan Patterson (Black Cross, The National Acrobat), Nick Thieneman, and Geoff Paton will release a new CD entitled Settle Down City, containing 11 songs of hypnotic, heavy, noise-rock anthems. Street date is September 12, 2006.

Seattle based label, Suicide Squeeze, has inked Baltimore's Page France to a recording contract. The label will re-released Hello, Dear Wind on September 12th. The disc offers a spirited mix of campfire sing-a-longs, whimsical pop classics, and a delicate dash of folk innocence. While Hello, Dear Wind features previously released material, front man Michael Nau and his band mates will set out to record new material for a proper label debut.

Psych-grind masters of the spiritual and physical revolution, An Albatross, are currently completing a European trek in support of their forthcoming debut full-length Blessphemy (of the Peace-Beast Feastgiver and the Bear-Warp Kumite), out June 27th on Ace Fu. Pitchfork Media calls this "The trippiest record in the history of the world."

Telarc Records will release One-Two Punch from Liquid Soul, the Grammy-nominated combo that has built its reputation on a compelling mix of jazz, hip-hop, funk and hard-bop. The San Francisco Chronicle calls Liquid Soul "...the tightest and funkiest outfit in America." Also coming from Telarc will be Cold As Ice, the new release from John Lee Hooker, Jr.. It scheduled for a June release.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Twin Atlas Interview

Sean Byrne and Lucas Zaleski began playing together in the 90's, and their backgrounds includes such independent stalwarts as Mazarin, Lenola, Matt Pond PA, and Audible. Together, they are known as Twin Atlas, a duo based in both Philadelphia, PA, and New York City. Their most recent release is entitled Sun Township, but, as you will find out, they have new material in the can.

One thing is for certain, Byrne and Zaleski get along like two brothers. Byrne conjures a picture that might explain the bond. "Maybe we could try writing & recording on stage. I’m sure that’d go over real well. People could pay to come watch me and Luke drinking beer and bickering and eating snacks and recording tunes." I'm there.

As you will read, getting on each other's nerves is part of what makes this duo who they are. Enjoy the conversation.

I understand that you are working on a new release. Any details you'd like to share?

SB: It's going to be a collection of songs from the same era that produced our last album (Sun Township). We purposely kept Sun Township brief, but the recording sessions from that era yielded the usual high number of songs. I feel like a lot of them are worthy of release, so I’ll be revisiting the recordings this summer and finishing things up on them. It’ll be called ‘Magic Car Wash,’ (note: Luke hates the title, like most titles I come up with) but ,at this point, I don’t know if it will be a ‘proper’ CD release or something more low-profile like just for download or a website-only CDR exclusive thing. I’m looking forward to working on it though.

Tell me how you two became The Twin Atlas.

LZ: Sean is talented. Luke is friends with Sean.

SB: We met in college back in the early 90’s. We both learned guitar around the same time from the same mutual friend.

When you bring people from different bands together, you, in my opinion, generally want to get away from the sounds created in your previous bands. But what drives your "new" sound? Is it something that happens or is it manufactured?

SB: I do think that, early on, I was definitely doing quieter & folkier stuff in reaction to some of the louder rock bands I had drummed with, but over time I actually now hear so much influence from those bands (Lenola, Mazarin) in Twin Atlas music just on a mellower level. In regards to any “new” sound, I just think the more recent songs have a higher fidelity and are a bit more developed than earlier songs that were just quick sketches.

LZ: We're pretty good at “manufacturing” creativity in the sense that we know that if we get together, add coffee, beer and guitars, we'll probably get something to work with. The approach stays the same, but we've never consciously tried to do anything. It's about leaving ourselves open to the possibility that something might happen. If that something is upbeat or mid-tempo, so be it. So long as it works.

With regards to the Sun Township release, what are you most proud of?

SB: It’s consistency of mood. I think there is a common thread to the album’s “feel” from start to end, which we never had on earlier releases so much.

Thirty minutes isn't a long record. Was that a conscious decision?

LZ: For this release I think Sean had a certain discipline about keeping the record consistent and very concise, maybe as a reaction to some of our longer, earlier records.

SB: For once, I actually agree with something Lucas has said.

Your bio calls the music on Sun Township "atmospheric." Define atmospheric.

SB: Ummm, I guess I’d rate atmosphere on how well the music conjures up a visual scene in your mind. If the music can somehow give the listener the feeling of a certain time of day, maybe during a particular time of the year, if the music stirs up a scenery or environment in your mind, I guess that’s atmospheric. It’s the exact opposite of something heavy-handed lyrically or when a song is about a person or politics. Effective atmosphere in music is much more subtle.

My guess is that you are not one for touring. Why?

LZ: Sean has a baby. And is one.

SB: Lucas also has a lovely daughter, and he is also really, really lame. That being said, the logistics are tough as we don’t live too close. But the true reason is that the essence of what we do is in the creative and recording process, not the reproduction of the songs live. We play a proper live show every once in a while and I’m usually left feeling mildly discouraged, or, at best, marginally satisfied. It's just not what the Twin Atlas is about.

I'm not sure which of you moved, but how is the new house coming along?

LZ: Sean moved into his retirement Mecca a few months back. He has since lost all his teeth, and his will to live.

SB: It's true, at least the part about the teeth.

For more on The Twin Atlas, go to

Friday, May 12, 2006


Okay, tell me if you've heard this one: What do you get when you cross a German and a San Franciscan?

Give up?

They call themselves Autonervous, and what you get is a sound that's sexy and catchy. The story begins in 2004 when Jessie Evans moved to Berlin with her bandmate known collectively as The Vanishing. It wasn't long before the two decided to call it quits and move their separate ways. "Both of us were sort of over it at that point," explains Evans. Eventually, she and, fellow sax player, Bettina Koster (ex-Malaria) hooked up and realized they shared a similar vision.

"We've taught each other a lot and stretched each other as far as we could in this process. Sometimes we drive each other crazy because we both act like we know everything."

The self-titled debut from Autonervous (available on Cochon Records) hits stores on June 6th. The Great Beyond caught up with Jessie Evans to discuss her past, present, and future.

What happened to the Vanishing?

Vanishing formed in 2002 in San Francisco. We put out three albums, about six singles and went through much evolution during that time. We toured Europe and Brain and I decided to move here to Berlin. We came here September, 2004, toured quite a bit, tried it out as a two-piece, but both of us were...needing to do our own things. So we called it a day. "Vanished" so to speak.

Is there a piece that stays with your former band when a situation like breaking-up occurs, or do you simply gather the pieces and move on?

Respect for each other is what stays, and respect for yourself is what allows you to move on. For a moment, I was having a hard time with the idea of breaking up because we had been doing it for a few years and were finally starting to have a bit of success with it. Bettina (Autonervous) gave me the best advice. She was like "Jessie, to have success with something you've got to stick with it your whole life." That gave me such courage, and it was a huge relief to hear it put like that; if your working for yourself then you have all the time you allow yourself.

What do you regret most about The Vanishing's break-up?

Nothing. Why should I regret? I really don't believe in the concept. I believe in everything I've done in my life. Even if I sometimes look back on things and see that I was a bit young and naive, it's all part of the process. If I was to stay put in situations where I wasn't allowed to grow and continue exploring, then that would be something to regret.

Is there a chance you and Brian will make music again someday?

Yeah, sure.

How do a California native and a German get together to form a band?

I moved to Berlin last year. I met Bettina, literally, directly after arriving here. We were picked up at the airport by this Spanish rock star and driven to an interview which she was taking part in also. It seemed fated that we would make music. I mean, we had so much in common: both singers/sax players and doing the same kind of music inspite being from different eras and generations. She is from the 80s Berlin scene and I'm from San Francisco. I think Malaria (Koster's former band) was pretty ahead for their time. They made an album also in the 90s which sounds more futuristic than all this electro stuff that's coming out now.

In my opinion, Autonervous is a visual band. Assuming I'm correct, is the focus the music or the visual?

At the moment, the music has been the focus. We've just completed our album and are working on taking it live. I find the visual thing very important too, but, right now, being on stage is just about being in the moment and feeling your blood..

Tell me about your photography. When did you become addicted? Any upcoming photography shows?

I've always loved to photograph people cos I see it as making your reality how you want it. You're creating something you can hold and take with you. You can also choose to see what you want and throw out the rest, which can be really healing. It helps me to understand relationships between people and human emotion. No shows planned, but I'm excited to have taken the cover photos for my friend Namosh 's debut album, which comes out June 16th on Bungalow Records in Berlin ..

Do you try to combine your work as a photographer with your music?

Yeah, I used to try to take pictures while I was on stage and I ended up ruining so many cameras!

The Autonervous debut hits stores in June. What is the feeling in the band as the date approaches?

Uh, nervous. (laughs) Just kidding. We're excited. I'm really proud of the album. I played drums (machines ) for the first time, and I think it's really beautiful. We both come across really clear in it. It's as though we both made our first solo album - together.

Describe the music. I've heard it referred to as "dance punk," and, while I did find it danceable, I'm not sure about punk. Gothic. The closest I can come is Sisters of Mercy meets Siouxsie meets Vince Clarke and Yaz.

The music is sexy. It feels very light to me, but I think anything either of us do would turn out a bit dark because it's in both of our natures. My main influences are rock steady, wave, and disco. Bettina's seem to be krautrock and wave. She's also like a chanson singer at times.

Log on to or Cochon Records for more information.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

News From The Great Beyond

In 1981, Brian Eno and David Byrne collaborated on an album entitled, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. The album has recently been re-issued in a new package, with extensive liner notes and photos. The new CD features seven previously unreleased tracks from the original album and a film by influential artist Bruce Conner. In keeping with the spirit of the original album, Brian and David are offering for download all the multitracks on two of the songs. And, you are free to edit, remix, and sample these tracks in any way you'd like. Visitors are welcome to post their mixes on the site for others to hear and rate. Check out the website at

They have become one of my favorites bands, and I'm sure their new CD will rank in my ten top for 2006. Detroit's The Come Ons have just released their fourth full-length disc, twelve dance pop songs, on their Mo Pop Music imprint. The album was recorded by Jim Kissling at Tempermill studios. You can find samples on the band's myspace page. To my surprise, when I received my CD, there was a picture of former Cub and Red Sox first baseman, Bill Buckner. I'm still trying to figure out how singer, bassist, Deanne Iovan, knew I was a baseball fan, a first baseman on may a baseball and softball team, and a New Yorker who watched Buckner misplay a ground ball that led to the Mets winning their first World Series in 1986. Love the photo, Deanne. The band also features guitarist Bryan Foreman and drummer Patrick Pantano.

It's official. Pedro the Lion's Dave Bazan is roaring back into action. The beloved songwriter has been buried in his home studio crafting a follow up to Achilles Heel. Now sans the PTL moniker, Bazan has redrafted a tour/internet only EP that he will sell on the road and via his site. The EP, entitled Fewer Moving Parts, finds Bazan going back to his musical roots, performing and recording all the music by himself. The EP will have two different versions of five new Bazan songs. One version will be stripped down acoustic and another version will have full-instrumentation. Acclaimed graphic novel artist Zak Sally [Low] is creating the artwork for the EP. Bazan will also tour on the eastern half of the country in June. Meanwhile Pedro the Lion's 2004 tour EP is available through digital outlets. The EP deatures PTL originals as well as three covers.

On the heels of their critically acclaimed More Deep Cuts, San Francisco's Thee More Shallows have released a seven song EP entitled Monkey vs. Shark. The EP includes a smashing cover of Al Green's "I Can't Get Next To You," as well as a new version of "Freshman Thesis" (originally appearing on More Deep Cuts) remixed by Odd Nodsam and Why? (Anticon). Look for the new EP on Turn Records.

Finally, Roadrunner Records has been busy with signings and new releases. First, the New York Dolls, as TGB reported several months ago, will be releasing their first disc in 30 years on July 26th. It's entitled One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This and produced by the equally legendary Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, John Lennon, etc.). The album includes tracks such as "Dance Like a Monkey" and "Take a Good Look at My Good Looks." Also coming are albums from Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry (July), Stone Sour (Come What[ever] May) on August 22nd, Opeth's Ghost Reveries on August 30th, and a special edition of Trivium's Ascendancy, featuring a cover of Metallica's "Master of Puppets." The label also announced the signing of Hatebreed, who can be seen on this year's Ozzfest caravan.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Go-Betweens' McLennan Dead At Age 47

Grant McLennan, singer-songwriter for Australia's legendary The Go-Betweens, died in his sleep on May 6th. The cause of his death is unknown. The Go-Betweens were experiencing a resurgence due to the recent release of Oceans Apart.

To read a statement about McLennan's death, go to

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

News From The Great Beyond

Stuart A. Staples releases his second solo album, Leaving Songs, June 6, 2006, on the Beggars Banquet imprint. The disc will be a double CD that will include Staples debut solo release from 2004, Lucky Dog Recordings '03-'04. Leaving Songs is a collection of songs written over the last year, recorded at Mark Nevers' studio in Nashville, with Dave Boulter, Neil Fraser and drummer Thomas Belhom. Further sessions at Lucky Dog studio featured Tindersticks' stalwart Terry Edwards and longtime collaborator, Gina Foster. This album also features duets with Maria McKee ('This Road Is Long') of Cowboy Junkies fame, and Lhasa de Sela ('That Leaving Feeling').

From Oakland, California, by way of Level Plane Records, comes The Saviours to save the day. The band hellbent on "saving heavy metal from its current state of lackluster purgatory" (that's what their website says) will be releasing Crucifire on May 16th. The band consists of Austin Barber (vocals, guitar), Scott Batiste (drums), Mag Delana (guitar), Cyrus Comiskey (bass) and D. Tyler Morris (guitar). Fans of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Saviours' sound takes on a deeper, darker tone that will remind fans of death metal stalewarts Venom and Bathory.

Bouncing Souls are a name that should be familiar to many. They've been around for 15 years perfecting their sound and entertaining fans through constant touring. Now, Epitaph Records is set to release Gold Record, on June 6th. To celebrate, the band will play six soldout performances at the Knitting Factory in NYC.

Count Jonah Smith as another artist who has benefited from being featured at SXSW. Smith, who has been called the future of music, landed both a management and booking agent deal in the week following the convention. Now, Smith is preparing to release his self-titled debut on June 27th for the Relix Records imprint. Look for a tour this summer.

Bouncing Souls photo by Zak Kaplan

Monday, May 01, 2006

News From The Great Beyond

MEASLES MUMPS RUBELLA will be releasing a remixed single for "Dynamic Disaster" this summer. Contributing to the project will be Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys. Other producers lending a hand will include DJ John Selway (Asphodel / Serotonin), Jonathan Kreinik (engineer of the band's debut Fantastic Success) and renowned sound artist Toshio Kashiwara (collaborator with Christian Marclay, DJ Olive, Tim Barnes). Measles Mumps Rubella are currently on tour supporting Fantastic Success, available on the Doubling Cube Records imprint.

It appears Ambulette have hits some hard times. Here's a press release via the band's publicist:

In an increasingly common occurance, Ambulette awoke this week, midst their tour opening for Dredg, only to find their gear had been stolen. The band offered the following statement on their Myspace page:

"We stayed at the Extended Stay Hotel near the airport in Philly on Sunday night. Sometime between 1am and sunrise, our van was broken in to (popped the lock on the driver's side door) and the majority of our equipment was taken. Between 9:45 and 10:45 a.m., Matt was guilt-tripped by the two Philly beat cops on the scene for being "too damn optimistic" to leave anything valuable in the van overnight (it's worth noting that neither of the same two officers there to make the OFFICIAL POLICE REPORT thought that it was neccessary to get out of their squad car to investigate, not even once, despite the loss of $15,000 to $20000 worth of equipment; I love everybody, including the police, no kidding, but come on...). No one was hurt, and we have insurance that should help cover most or all of the loss, though much of the stuff ('59 Jazzmaster, anyone?) is irreplaceable.

So, if you're our friend, here's a partial list of things that were stolen from us Monday morning in Philadelphia:

- 1959 Fender Jazzmaster - white w/ white headstock, tortoise shell pick guard
- 1974 (?) Gibson SG - brown/natural finish
- 2003 Fender "deluxe american" Telecaster - sunburst w/ white binding, pick guard
- 1977 Fender Precision Bass - black w/ black pickguard, maple neck

- new Clavia Nord Electro - 72 keys, in SKB hard case

- 1969 (?) Matamp ("Orange") OR100 Head - in flight case, with modified power jack-newer Dr. Z "Presciption" (***not "Prescription - note the misspelling; the amp was made that way) white, in flight case
- newer Dr. Z 2x12" speaker cabinet - red
- 1960's Fender Champ - Tweed
- Traynor YBA1 Bassmaster Head

- 16" Ludwig Vista Lite - Clear, in SKB case

- Fulltone Tube Tape Echo (in Pelican case w/ Champ Amp)

effects together in a pedal board/flight case:
- Demeter Compulator
- Chicago Iron works Parachute wah wah
- Fulltone Fulldrive
- Electro Harmonix Big Muff
- Demeter Tremolo
- Z Vex Lo Fi Loop Junky
- Ernie Ball Volume Pedal-Keeley Katana
- Peterson Strobe Tuner

If you're on the east coast (Philly, NYC, D.C., Delaware, etc.), and you see these things anywhere, please let us know. If you're a wacko super-fan and know our equipment better than we do ourselves, and are POSITIVE that what you're trying out at the pawn shop in Stroudsburg or Wilkes-Barre or Rochester or Secacus (etc...) used to belong to us, feel free to call the police before getting in touch with us.

In the mean time, thanks to Dredg and Ours and their crews for being kind enough to let us use their equipment every night so that we might finish this portion of the tour. We fully intend to play every night, so to answer a commonly asked question: YES, we will be playing all of the Rainer Maria dates, as planned. And if you're a gear thief, please let us know where you put our stuff."